Congressional opponents of the US/Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) yesterday warned that they have more than enough votes to stop the agreement in the House of Representatives.

"If there was a vote today we would have about 190 Democrats and 40 Republicans. This agreement is not even close," Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown told a news conference.

The majority of democrats are against the agreement, arguing that its labour and environmental stance is underdeveloped.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are hopeful that the agreement will be passed, but admit that it will be a close call.

US textile and manufacturing firms also fear their businesses would be badly affected by CAFTA.

But as American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) president and chief executive officer Kevin M Burke points out: "CAFTA-DR equips Central America and the Dominican Republic with the tools it needs to stay competitive in the post-quota world. 

"This region purchased over $4.2 billion worth of US-made yarn and fabric in 2004, making it the fastest growing and second largest market for US manufacturers of yarn and fabric and the hundreds of thousands of US workers who depend on it."
Burke notes that: "Congress' failure to pass this important agreement over the last year, however, has led the region to lose significant market share which, in turn, has hurt the very people these members of Congress claim to be helping."